My Name is Colleen

“I thought that I had found my “home” in academia.  Well.  Lots of abuse occurs at home.  Academia is no home.” Stock photo: pexels.com

MY WORST MOMENT

It’s so hard to choose.  I reported on the sexism and racism of a colleague who was abusing a position of power over students, and I have faced more than a decade of retaliation ever since.  Maybe the worst moments are when things seem to be going okay and I allow myself to imagine that the institution is ready to treat me fairly, and then something awful happens again and I realize, no, I will never be treated respectfully here.  Or, maybe when I was suicidal and drove into traffic without looking was worse?  Nothing happened, so maybe subconsciously I wasn’t?  I don’t know.  Every day seems like an opportunity for something yet again worse to happen.

I HAVE GIVEN UP ON

I have given up on my dreams to be a leader in my field.  ‘I coulda been a contender.”

I’M AFRAID

That the institution will find a way to fire me; the retaliation has gone on for so long and there really are people who are out to get me.

THIS HAS COST ME

I have spent at least $500,000 on medical care and assistance with daily tasks to survive the problems caused by the retaliation.  Supposedly our salaries are not linked to rank but rather to years in service, but since individual salaries are not published, I do not know how much salary I may have missed out on.  I have probably lost $2,000,000 in grant funds because I could not write as many as I would have, had I not been in such a hostile work environment.  Had I had grants, I would have gotten at least $100,000 more in salary over the years.  The health problems make me ineligible for certain disability-related benefits as well.

SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW

 I was a first-generation, high-financial need student.  I thought that I had found my “home” in academia.  Well.  Lots of abuse occurs at home.  Academia is no home.  I question whether to continue helping underrepresented students persist in academia because what if this happens to them, too?

IS THERE A BRIGHT SIDE?

I am heartened to get to know other women who have survived retaliation and discrimination and assault.  But on the other hand knowing about all this sh*t, which other people can seemingly blithely not know about, is deeply disheartening.

MY FIGHT SONGS

Take this job and shove it

MY SECRET WEAPON

I’m fucking good at my job, better than practically everybody else at my institution, frankly.  So they can’t quite fire me.